UAW Establishes Union At Volkswagen Plant

The United Auto Workers (UAW) successfully organized a local union at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee. Local 42 will represent any interested Volkswagen worker at the Chattanooga-based factory; employees won’t be required to become UAW members. The UAW Local 42 will operate under the model of Volkswagen “works councils” used in Germany.

“Upon Local 42 signing up a meaningful portion of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga workforce, we’re confident the company will recognize Local 42 by dealing with it as a members’ union that represents those employees who join the local,” UAW secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel said in a statement.

The UAW has been interested in unionizing the Volkswagen plant since at least 2011. In February, Volkswagen workers voted against UAW representation in a margin of 712 votes to 626. Soon after, however, the UAW filed a lawsuit with the National Labor Relations Board claiming that outsiders had illegally interfered with the voting process. The UAW said it withdrew those complaints so it could move forward with establishing a local union.

“We withdrew objections to end the controversy and put the focus where it belongs: obtaining the economic incentives necessary to ensure the growth of Volkswagen in Chattanooga and the addition of a new product line,” Casteel said.

Volkswagen opened its factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 2011. The facility employs more than 3200 people and currently builds the Volkswagen Passat. It is soon expected to add a new crossover, too. In 2012, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn suggested that the Chattanooga plant would add an SUV model bigger than the Tiguan, and the plant added a third shift of production to increase its total production capacity. The new model is expected to be a three-row crossover aimed specifically at the U.S. market.

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